Fair is Fair: Limited is Overdue for a Good Shafting

Paul Perjuns-Tart • December 8, 2022

With so many different ways to play Magic: the Gathering, declaring one format as superior to another is an exercise in subjective futility. There is no such thing as a "best" format, and yes, I realize I completely contradicted my headline for this article, but what if I told you the reason Limited is the best format has nothing to with the actual games played in the Limited format. Confused? Good.

Recent happenings in Magic have left a bad taste in the mouths of enthusiasts everywhere. Magic 30th Anniversary boosters have caused a commotion in the secondary market, rocking the foundations of collectors and investors. A MTG30 Mox Pearl's value was boosted to over $3,000 via eBay bids, then ended up not selling. A $1,000 MTG30 Mox Jet wasn't bid on at all. It's been a long time since card value hasn't been reasonably clear and speculators are worried.

Meanwhile, products are being released by the truckload. Daily Secret Lairs. Multiple new Commander pre-cons every six weeks. Draft boosters, set boosters, collectors boosters, Jumpstart boosters for every set. IP crossovers are abundant, and some aren't even optional purchases anymore. Premium cards sold at a premium price may be pretty, but will get you disqualified if you fail to check your deck with judges first.

Spoiler isn't a season, it's an ongoing deluge of new cards leading to product fatigue and confusion. Even content creators can't keep up with it all. Should we review the newest set, or talk about the spoilers for the next? What content is more valuable? Because of it all, the climate of MTG has shifted away from "what's happening" to "what's coming" unless "what's happening" is controversial, cultivating an increasingly toxic environment.

It's all exhausting.

In the midst it all, there are a sect of players seemingly immune to all the heartache and the drama. These are the players whose relationship begins and ends when they sit down to draft on a Friday night. They're the players who create and maintain their own draft pool to enjoy time spent playing with friends rather than Commander or constructed. They're not worried if the Secret Lair launching in a couple days will sell out, or if the price of a MTG30 Black Lotus will impact the secondary market. They won't know what Universes Beyond is until they sit down to draft Lord of the Rings and will probably have a blast doing so.

Too many new sets? Darn! More chances to play Sealed and a larger variety sets to draft. Limited-only players on MTG Arena don't care about duplicate protection or $25 wildcard bundles. Mythic pack? What's that? They've just been enjoying a cheap (if not free) way to enjoy their favorite hobby. Supplemental set priced too high? Whatever, let's draft another set. New product not available? I've got a box of Dominaria I've been saving for such an occasion.

Players who stick to Limited are immune to the fuss. Aside from the occasional error resulting in too many or too few rares in a booster pack, Limited-only players are happily munching on popcorn while the entirety of MTG social media loses their collective minds over Commander-exclusive play areas for the affluent and the vanishing of Wizards of the Coast reprint policy on their website. Investors see WotC over-producing, causing the price of product to drop. Amazon dumping product at an all-time low? More packs to draft.

Simply put, Limited is the best format because it's insulated from almost every moment of drama to come out of Wizards of the Coast's headquarters. Limited is the format that will survive every major upheaval in the world of MTG. It's the format that WotC talking heads will never ask twitter "Why no one plays anymore." It's removed from growing the product value bubble. There are no bans. There are no erratas. There are no rants about the "bullshit state of draft".

To many MTG players, Limited is pure Magic. A test of skill rather than wallet size. An affordable way to enjoy an otherwise overpriced hobby. There's something satisfying about going into an LGS on a Friday night empty-handed, and leaving a few hours later after socializing and playing games with new cards in your pocket. Keep your Secret Lairs, Anniversary Editions, and Collectors products. Who cares about drama when all you need are three packs of draft boosters and a bunch of good friends?

Well, I'm sick of it. Wizards of the Coast has been letting these people get away with enjoying themselves for far too long! How is it fair that Limited players enjoy a healthy relationship with their hobby while the rest of us are left wondering what the catch is when Wizards does something nice for players out of the blue? Their unprompted golden packs on MTG Arena reminded me of an abusive ex texting me randomly promising to be better. Why can't they trigger Limited-only players too?

Could Wizards at least make booster packs that are like, double the price? Draft boosters are packs you can actually use to play. Isn't that feature worth a bit of price gouging? I'm sure there are plenty of whales playing Limited. Why aren't you turning them upside down to shake out their loose change as well?

Is it really too much to ask to segregate the Limited community with fancy draft boosters meant for monocle-wearing mustachioed elites who scoff at the riff raff playing cards with borders on them? Why are the Limited players the only one not made to feel inferior for living paycheck to paycheck? Why do they get to enjoy Magic: the Gathering without FOMO, anger from objectively bad decisions, and online drama? It's just not fair.

Why not start selling draft boosters via your Secret Lair site in such limited quantities that scalpers buy you out in minutes? Why should Limited players be immune from buying product from scalpers on he secondary market at an inflated price? Why not stop the custom draft format market by shutting down cube cobra like you did Card Conjurer? Custom cards aren't okay, but custom draft pools are? Have some consistency!

All I am asking is for equality. If you're going to make your fans miserable, please don't exclude specific groups of people. I thought you were more inclusive than that.

Categories: Satire

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Paul Perjuns-Tart is often told he’s small for his age despite being 41, earning him the nickname “Lil’ P.P.” on the count of his size and initials. Recently trapped under an upside down glass, he was forced to write for pauperjumpstart.com where he’s rewarded with tortillas and spoonfuls of peanut butter so long as he doesn’t try to escape. When he’s not running across a keyboard like that scene in the movie Big, he’s printing out mean internet comments for his scrapbook. Magic: The Gathering.